The Famous Toyo Tool Box – Changing What “Made In Japan” Means to Americans For More Than 50 years
America has had a complex relationship with Toyo tool boxes for many reasons. Some of us love them as icons of pop culture design. Some of us hate them as an imported steel product. Some of us see them as one of those “shark” products like the classic Snap-on tool chests – something that hasn’t changed in 50 years because it was already perfect.
“Made in Japan” can mean different things to different people. The American auto industry, and most of its manufacturing sectors, encourage us to think of Japanese exports as they were immediately after World War 2: cheap exports using even cheaper materials from a former manufacturing giant who had been devastated by war.
The fact is, though, that Japan is one of the top manufacturing locations in the world for a wide range of industries. Japanese cars and trucks aren’t particularly cheap anymore, but they still sell like hotcakes all over the world. That’s because the material and build quality of Japanese steel products is among the best on the planet, and exceeds the US’ capabilities in a few areas.
The Toyo tool boxes we’ll look at today are all branded as Toyo Steel, though as we’ll discuss below, Toyo also sells the exact same tool boxes through another distributor under another brand name.
So, let’s take a much closer look at Toyo tool boxes, and what they offer compared to American-made alternatives.
Is Trusco Tool Box The Same As Toyo Tool Box?
Yes. Toyo Steel makes boxes for Trusco, who are a trading company that sells tools and other products made by several factories. If you see a Trusco tool box that matches the description of a Toyo tool box described here, you can assume it is in fact a rebranded Toyo Steel product.
Toyo Steel Makes Only Steel Tool Boxes
Many different models of Toyo metal tool boxes are popular today. Steel is a very durable material which resists bending and denting very well. With the right coating it can withstand normal levels of wear and for decades. If steel tool boxes have one drawback, it is that, volume for volume, they are much heavier than plastic tool boxes of similar strength and utility.
Toyo Steel Makes Hand Tool Boxes Almost Exclusively
Hand-held tool boxes are generally the smallest type. They can be made of nearly any material, and can be designed to fulfill many different purposes. The only thing all hand-held tool boxes have in common is the fact that they can be carried by hand.
Because they are relatively small, a handheld small tool box does not hold many tools or much equipment. On the other hand, it will be light and portable even when full, and it can literally go anywhere you can go. You can’t say that for more modern developments like the pit box. As a class, hand-held tool boxes also tend to be less expensive than other types.
Toyo Cantilever Tool Boxes
Toyo is well known for its cantilever tool boxes, such as the model GT-470. A cantilever tool box has one or more small trays which open up from the top, each mounted on a single or double set of cantilevered arms.
Many small and medium-sized cantilever tool boxes find themselves being used as fishing tackle boxes because these cantilevered trays lend themselves just as well to fishing lure storage as they do to storing and organizing small parts and fasteners.
Hand-portable cantilever tool boxes are far more common than wheel-mounted units, but the top box of a combination box may well have one or more cantilever trays in its topmost compartment rather than a “top hatch” type opening.
What About Toyo Tool Box Prices?
Generally speaking, a new Toyo tool box won’t break the bank in the same way a big Craftsman box would. They tend to be quite a bit smaller, though. You can get a large Toyo cantilever tool box like the Toyo GT-470 for well under $150, and you’d struggle to find a similarly sized all-steel tool box of the same quality from any other well-known brand. Something small like the Y-280-B should set you back less than $50.
That said, Toyo has been manufacturing very well-made tool boxes since 1969, and any Toyo tool box from the 1970s in good condition is likely to be a sought-after collector’s item. You could pay quite a lot for a vintage Toyo tool box.
A Detailed Look At A Few Toyo Tool Box Products
Toyo ST-350 Tool Box
The Toyo tool box ST-350 and ST-350-B are classic examples of the all-steel 2-level cantilever tool box. It measures 13½ inches wide by 61/5 inches deep by 71/5 inches tall when closed. Most of the models available today are in a slightly metallic blue powder coat finish. It weighs just over 5½ pounds empty.
The build quality of this typer pf Toyo tool box is excellent, partially because both the main bottom box section and both cantilever box sections are made of a single piece of steel pressed into a “U” shape, with carefully wended side-walls added to complete the coffer shape. This minimum-piece design is a hallmark of Toyo Steel products, and is one of the reasons they last so long under heavy use.
This model can be found for just over $100 to just over $150, depending on where you shop. The Trusco branded models are often cheaper, but have exactly the same build quality.
Toyo Tool Box Y-350
This is very much the “classic” Toyo tool box design, beloved for its simplicity, functionality and durability. Both the top and bottom are stamped from a single piece of steel, giving them a sturdiness and resilience that cannot be matched by a steel tool box made with welds or rivets.
The Tool box Toyo Y-350 is available in several finishes, including white, blue, black, olive, and classic red. It can generally be found for prices under $50.
Toyo Tool Box T-320
This tidy little Toyo tool box is generally marketed for holding a minimal automotive tool kit in the trunk or behind the seat of a small pick-up. It is made of sturdy steel, and again the top and body are both pressed from a single piece of steel.
What does it cost? Often under $40 from most suppliers.
Toyo GT-470 3-Tier Cantilever Tool Box
The Toyo Steel GT-470 is a larger version of the ST-350 we looked at above. The main difference is that the model 470 Toyo tool box has a total of 4 cantilevered drawers, in 2 stacks of 2.
How much does it cost? Around $200, and that is a fair price for a well-made steel tool box of this size.
A Word About The Recyclability Of Tool Box Materials
We might not jump straight to “How recyclable are the materials?” when we think about buying a tool box. We might think about style, utility, weight, or expense first. However, considering the state of our climate and natural resources, environmental concerns should always be in the corner of our minds.
Part of making an environmentally sound product is making sure your materials are reusable, recyclable, or both. Toyo uses only one single material for most of its tool boxes – steel. Steel is easy to recycle, and more importantly, it is economical to recycle. It is less expensive to melt down steel products than to extract the ore from the earth and refine it.
On the contrary, DECKED products have three main ingredients. The first is a high impact, durable, and UV-proof polymer resin. Plastic, if you will. The second is steel and the third is aluminum. Steel and aluminum both have excellent recyclability ratings, and have been recycled for decades. No problems there. Historically, however, plastics have been more troublesome and expensive to recycle. Well, DECKED’s plastics aren’t like that at all. The key to using plastics responsibly is making sure they are not just possible to recycle, but economical to recycle.
Well, we have done just that. DECKED’s unique plastic resin products are in fact easier to recycle than most metals, and DECKED products leave the factory already containing a healthy percentage of recycled material. This helps us reduce both our overall environmental impact and our carbon footprint as a company. Any ‘plastic waste’ we generate in our factory is a resource that we can break it down and add to the next batch of resin. Almost nothing goes to external recycling, let alone the local landfills.
In the end, that means that both Toyo and DECKED products are “green” and ecologically responsible, not just strong and great-looking.
The DECKED D-Box Hand-Held Tool Box
The DECKED D-Box is a great choice for a small tool box no matter how you intend to use it. The D-Box is very resilient and resistant to damage. It is made of the high impact plastic resin that has made DECKED famous, providing both strength and excellent recycling properties. The D-Box also boasts a waterproof seal which will keep your tools, your gear, or even your picnic lunch dry in the worst weather. It also has removable internal dividers to help you organize and manage your equipment. Better still, it works perfectly inside both the DECKED Drawer System and the DECKED Tool Box (see below).
The DECKED Crossbox Hand-Held Toolbox
The DECKED Crossbox is an inexpensive, tough, and well-made little tool box. Like all DECKED products, the Crossbox is made of an easily and economically recyclable high impact polymer resin. Using this material makes the Crossbox light and extremely durable. Better still, each one that leaves our factory in Defiance, Ohio already contains plenty of recycled materials.
The DECKED Crossbox fits easily in any closet, in the trunk, or behind the seat of your truck. However, the DECKED Crossbox really comes into its own when used as part of the DECKED Drawer System tool storage and transport ecosystem.
The DECKED Tool Box – Classic, Well-Built, Scaled Up And Mobile
The DECKED Tool Box fits behind the cab of virtually any modern working truck, SUV, or pickup. It is a wonderful way to transport your tools, working gear, or sporting equipment in complete safety and security.
The DECKED Tool Box also ships with a DECKED D-Box and Snack Tray small parts container included for free, and many other access and organizational extras are available from the DECKED website.
In fact, the DECKED Tool Box can be ordered with a fold-away ladder. This lets you access the box without having to climb up into your cab, and makes loading or unloading large, heavy or bulky items much easier.
In terms of security, the DECKED tool box can’t be beat. Its lock and the surrounding mount are both heavily armored in steel, and the only way into a DECKED Tool Box without the key would be to literally cut it apart with power tools. You can, of course, order a replacement key instead.
The DECKED Drawer System – A Solid, Waterproof Tool Box That Drives With You
The DECKED Drawer System lets you store a full 2,000 pounds of tools, gear or equipment in a set of waterproof, secure underbed drawers. It is easily the equal of Toyo tool boxes in terms of design brilliance, materials quality, and craftsmanship. The entire DECKED system, however, is designed, built, and sold in the USA. In the end, it should last as long as your truck, and quite possibly longer.
Better still, unlike most truck-mounted storage systems, it doesn’t eat up an inch of your usable truck bed area. Instead, the DECKED Drawer System increases the usable area of your truck bed by raising it above the wheel wells. This lets you use the entire bed width and length while protecting the actual bed of your truck from damage.
We hope you learned a little about Toyo tool boxes, as well as some of the larger, vehicle-mounted alternatives from DECKED. Toyo may have been around since Woodstock, but they had better look out for DECKED.